Japan and cancer

On 4 February 2012, it was World Cancer day as reported by the World Health Organization. During that time, I just started my holidays in Japan.

It is unlikely to find someone who has not been affected by cancer in some way–either by having the condition themself, knowing someone that has cancer, or dealing with the uncertainty of having cancer — which is what I am experiencing.

Unfortunately, I know a few family members who have gone and whom are stiill through cancer. Such people in my life are (or were) positive despite the ordeal to endure. Everyone thinks of me as a strong, confident person, but I highly doubt I could battle cancer with such nobility that I have witnessed from others. Which is why I have this constant hope that my test results will finally show that everything is “normal”.

As a vegetarian born and raised in Southern California, USA, it is somewhat engraved in my very being to lead a healthy lifestyle. So I ask the token question, “Why me?”

Up until recently, only one other person knew of my situation, but I now have the courage to tell more loved ones. I mention courage because it is what it takes to play it off as a menial chance, whereas truly, I have a whirlwind of uncertainty churning inside of me.

A movie I watched on the way to Japan is called “50/50“. The movie includes Seth Rogan (a guy with a very annoying voice), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (from my favorite movie, “500 days of summer”), and Bryce Dallas Howard (gorgeous!). It tackles cancer in a light-hearted approach.

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A much more enjoyable type of uncertainty is felt when traveling. Although this is a re-visit to Japan, I still had new experiences and observations that I will be sharing with you in future blog posts (stay tuned….)

A preview:

  1. Japanese married women tend not to wear large diamond rings I often see on American women. Here is an article about the diamond invention.
  2. Although possibly losing popularity in Japan whilst gaining movement overseas, Gyaru is beautiful. Yet, the regimen is exhaustive and to appear presentable to the world, I will stick to my mainstays that start with an “S” — SLEEP and my SHISEIDO skincare used since 12 years old.
  3. Becoming dressed in kimono is another way to enrich a cultural visit to Japan
  4. One thing that never changes about Japan and something I notice whenever I visit parents in Oahu, is that Japanese politeness, hospitability, and friendliness are genuine.

Later blog posts will also feature some “kawaii” findings in the country — the Asian part of my genes were activated and I could not stop gushing at all things kawaii.

Because 2012 marks the centennial demise of Emperor Meiji, I share with you these photos first:

The expanisive shrine grounds provide a respite from the nearby Shibuya and Harajuku. Although the various placards at this shrine provided brief descriptions into Emperor Meiji’s character, I suppose his poetry hints at what type of leader he was:

It is our hope

That all the world’s oceans

Be joined in peace

So why do the winds and waves

Now rise up in angry rage?

written by Emperor Meiji expressing his sorrow of failed peaceful resolutions which caused him to reluctantly order a Japanese-Russo War. The respect for this man was so obvious to me upon finding out that volunteers planted over 100,000 trees at this site and over 500,000 Japanese attended the shrine’s first opening.

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Another highly regarded man, in the “writer’s world” is Franz Kafka. Reading Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore” and writing a short review about the book spurred my interest in reading a work by Kafka. I just finished his book called “The Castle” (which Kafka himself did not finish writing this book — his friend, Max Brod completed the book). The style of this book reminded me of José Saramago’s refusal to divide texts into paragraphs. For the story itself, expect more of situations, than an actual plot. Similarly, expect encounters with characters, not deep descriptions into their personalities or physical attributes. The question remains why was K. so determined to get inside the Castle?

A few quotations from the book:

  • In regards to the above questions, this version of the book started off with a quote from Europides, The Medea:

…who search the reason of things

Are those who bring the most sorrow on themselves

  • But the opposition one meets in the world is great, and becomes greater the higher one aims, and it’s no disgrace to accept the help of a man who’s fighting his way up.
  • You have no tenderness to spare for me, you have hardly even time for me…the idea of being jealous never comes into your mind.
  • I only wish you had once called out my name as lovingly as for some incomprehensible reason you called that hateful name. If you have not trust in me, how can I keep mistrust from rising?

The last two quotes I picked to share because it is Valentines’ Day. Here in Japan, the day is celebrated much differently, than in the USA and some European countries. In Japan, 14 February is the day the women give gifts to the men. Usually the gift is chocolate and when I found this out via the internet, I had a big “a-ha!” moment. Since arriving the start of February, I noticed that the shopping malls are full of women purusing the different chocoate and pastry vendors. As a female, I highly understand the attraction to beautifully displayed tasty treats and I just thought the women were purchasing such fancy gifts for themselves to enjoy. But when I read how Japanese celebrate today opposite to that of the American way, I felt it was such an interesting fact because the magnitude of Valentines’ festivities in Japan reminds me of all the Christmas commercialism that happens in the holiday season. Nevertheless, whether it is in the USA, Europe, or Japan, I never approved of Valentines’ day and felt it as a ploy for retail companies to gain profits. Love should be celebrated everyday of the year. Another lesson I learned by being in love is simply explained by this poster I took a picture of in Tokyo:

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